If a trailer’s going to bow on “Good Morning America,” it feels like you’re safe in making some assumptions on the content of that trailer. Something frothy, we would imagine, in the vein of “New Year’s Eve” or “Eat Pray Love,” perhaps. At the very most, something from the latest Disney film, bearing in mind that ABC is a subsidiary of Disney. Not on our shortlist? A violent, dystopian sci-fi film about children made to fight each other to the death for the benefit of the general public.
But it says something about the phenomenon that “The Hunger Games” series has become that the clip’s debut on the morning show wasn’t just happening, but it was hyped for days in advance. The young-adult novel trilogy managed to be both a bestseller and fairly critically acclaimed, in comparison to competition like “Twilight,” and Lionsgate‘s film adaptation, written and directed by “Seabiscuit” helmer Gary Ross, has quietly become one of the most anticipated films of the year in certain circles, so fans of Katniss Everdeen & co ate their corn flakes in front of their TVs this morning.
For the uninitiated, the series is set in a post-apocalyptic future, where every year, two children from each ‘district’ are selected to go to the capital and fight against each other in the titular bloodsport. One young girl, Katniss (“Winter’s Bone” star Jennifer Lawrence) takes her sister’s place in the games, and becomes a figurehead for many, even while she becomes one point in a love triangle between fellow District 12-inhabitant Peeta Meelark (Josh Hutcherson) and old friend Gale (Liam Hemsworth), while Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland, Elizabeth Banks, Toby Jones, Wes Bentley and Lenny Kravitz all figure into the supporting cast.
The trailer hit Apple (embed via JoBlo) at about the same time as its TV debut, and it’s looking… well, fairly decent. It’s clearly a world-building clip, setting up the characters and situations while skimping on the action, but that’s about what we’d expect four months out (and hopefully signifies a simllar character-led approach to the film itself). The performances look strong too, with Lawrence, Hutcherson and Hemsworth all looking likely to stymie fan doubts (although we say that as newcomers to the series), and certainly standing well above the “Twilight” trio. In that they have facial expressions and are able to give line readings.
What we’re not quite sold on is Ross’ take on the futuristic dystopia; somewhere between “Gattaca” and “Speed Racer,” it’s sort of distinctive, but the Lady Gaga-by-way-of-“Aeon Flux” look of Banks and Tucci, and Wes Bentley’s indescribable facial hair, could risk coming off as silly at great length. And, while we’re sure that the goods are being kept under wraps for now (and it’s refreshing to see a trailer that doesn’t give everything away), we do hope that the games themselves involve more than people running through a field.
Whether the full can live up to/surpass its trailer remains to be seen, but Lionsgate are certainly hoping that it can, as they’re planning a full trilogy, with the second installment, “Catching Fire,” already scheduled for release in November 2013. But first things first: “The Hunger Games” will hit theaters on March 23rd, 2012.